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United Kingdom Country Facts - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:49

United Kingdom Country Facts Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
August 2007

Background Note: United Kingdom Country Facts

Spring flowers in front of St.
Stephen's tower, containing Big Ben,
London, United Kingdom, March 7,
2002. [? AP Images]

Flag of United Kingdom is blue field with the red cross of Saint George
(patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red
cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on
the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); properly
known as the Union Flag, but commonly called the Union Jack.


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Area: 243,000 sq. km. (93,000 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than Oregon.
Cities: Capital--London (metropolitan pop. about 7.2 million). Other
cities--Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bradford,
Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast.
Terrain: 30% arable, 50% meadow and pasture, 12% waste or urban, 7% forested,
1% inland water.
Land use: 25% arable, 46% meadows and pastures, 10% forests and woodland, 19%
Climate: Generally mild and temperate; weather is subject to frequent changes
but to few extremes of temperature.

Nationality: Noun--Briton(s). Adjective--British.
Population (2007 est.): 60.8 million.
Annual population growth rate (2007 est.): 0.275%.
Major ethnic groups: British, Irish, West Indian, South Asian.
Major religions: Church of England (Anglican), Roman Catholic, Church of
Scotland (Presbyterian), Muslim.
Major languages: English, Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic.
Education: Years compulsory--12. Attendance--nearly 100%. Literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2007 est.)--5.01/1,000. Life expectancy (2007
est.)--males 76.23 yrs.; females 81.3 yrs.; total 78.7 years
Work force (2007, 31.1 million): Services--80.4%; industry--18.2%;

Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: Unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice.
Branches: Executive--monarch (head of state), prime minister (head of
government), cabinet. Legislative--bicameral Parliament: House of Commons,
House of Lords; Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, and Northern Ireland
Assembly. Judicial--magistrates' courts, county courts, high courts,
appellate courts, House of Lords.
Subdivisions: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland (municipalities, counties,
and parliamentary constituencies).
Political parties: Great Britain--Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats;
also, in Scotland--Scottish National Party. Wales--Plaid Cymru (Party of
Wales). Northern Ireland--Ulster Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour
Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Alliance Party, and other
smaller parties.
Suffrage: British subjects and citizens of other Commonwealth countries and
the Irish Republic resident in the U.K., at 18.

GDP (at current market prices, 2007 est.): $1.93 trillion.
Annual growth rate (2006 est.): 2.8%.
Per capita GDP (2006 est.): $31,800.
Natural resources: Coal, oil, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt,
clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica.
Agriculture (1.1% of GDP): Products--cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables,
cattle, sheep, poultry, fish.
Industry: Types--steel, heavy engineering and metal manufacturing, textiles,
motor vehicles and aircraft, construction (5.2% of GDP), electronics,
Trade (2006 est.): Exports of goods and services--$468.8 billion:
manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco. Major
markets--U.S., European Union. Imports of goods and services--$603 billion:
manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, foodstuffs. Major suppliers--U.S.,
European Union, Japan.

The United Kingdom's population in 2004 surpassed 60 million--the
third-largest in the European Union. Its overall population density is one of
the highest in the world. Almost one-third of the population lives in
England's prosperous and fertile southeast and is predominantly urban and
suburban--with about 7.2 million in the capital of London, which remains the
largest city in Europe. The United Kingdom's high literacy rate (99%) is
attributable to universal public education introduced for the primary level
in 1870 and secondary level in 1900. Education is mandatory from ages 5
through 16. About one-fifth of British students go on to post-secondary
education. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are the official
churches in their respective parts of the country, but most religions found
in the world are represented in the United Kingdom.

A group of islands close to continental Europe, the British Isles have been
subject to many invasions and migrations, especially from Scandinavia and the
continent, including Roman occupation for several centuries. Contemporary
Britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic stocks that settled there
before the 11th century. The pre-Celtic, Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and
Norse influences were blended in Britain under the Normans, Scandinavian
Vikings who had lived in Northern France. Although Celtic languages persist
in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the predominant language is
English, which is primarily a blend of Anglo-Saxon and Norman French.

The Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC and most of Britain's subsequent
incorporation into the Roman Empire stimulated development and brought more
active contacts with the rest of Europe. As Rome's strength declined, the
country again was exposed to invasion--including the pivotal incursions of
the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in the fifth and sixth centuries AD--up to the
Norman conquest in 1066. Norman rule effectively ensured Britain's safety
from further intrusions; certain institutions, which remain characteristic of
Britain, could develop. Among these are a political, administrative,
cultural, and economic center in London; a separate but established church; a
system of common law; distinctive and distinguished university education; and
representative government.

Both Wales and Scotland were independent kingdoms that resisted English rule.
The English conquest of Wales succeeded in 1282 under Edward I, and the
Statute of Rhuddlan established English rule 2 years later. To appease the
Welsh, Edward's son (later Edward II), who had been born in Wales, was made
Prince of Wales in 1301. The tradition of bestowing this title on the eldest
son of the British Monarch continues today. An act of 1536 completed the
political and administrative union of England and Wales.

While maintaining separate parliaments, England and Scotland were ruled under
one crown beginning in 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded his cousin
Elizabeth I as James I of England. In the ensuing 100 years, strong religious
and political differences divided the kingdoms. Finally, in 1707, England and
Scotland were unified as Great Britain, sharing a single Parliament at

Ireland's invasion by the Anglo-Normans in 1170 led to centuries of strife.
Successive English kings sought to conquer Ireland. In the early 17th
century, large-scale settlement of the north from Scotland and England began.
After its defeat, Ireland was subjected, with varying degrees of success, to
control and regulation by Britain.

The legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was completed on January
1, 1801, under the name of the United Kingdom. However, armed struggle for
independence continued sporadically into the 20th century. The Anglo-Irish
Treaty of 1921 established the Irish Free State, which subsequently left the
Commonwealth and became a republic after World War II. Six northern,
predominantly Protestant, Irish counties have remained part of the United

British Expansion and Empire
Begun initially to support William the Conqueror's (c. 1029-1087) holdings in
France, Britain's policy of active involvement in continental European
affairs endured for several hundred years. By the end of the 14th century,
foreign trade, originally based on wool exports to Europe, had emerged as a
cornerstone of national policy.

The foundations of sea power were gradually laid to protect English trade and
open up new routes. Defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 firmly established
England as a major sea power. Thereafter, its interests outside Europe grew
steadily. Attracted by the spice trade, English mercantile interests spread
first to the Far East. In search of an alternate route to the Spice Islands,
John Cabot reached the North American continent in 1498. Sir Walter Raleigh
organized the first, short-lived colony in Virginia in 1584, and permanent
English settlement began in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia. During the next two
centuries, Britain extended its influence abroad and consolidated its
political development at home.

Great Britain's industrial revolution greatly strengthened its ability to
oppose Napoleonic France. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the
United Kingdom was the foremost European power, and its navy ruled the seas.
Peace in Europe allowed the British to focus their interests on more remote
parts of the world, and, during this period, the British Empire reached its
zenith. British colonial expansion reached its height largely during the
reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Queen Victoria's reign witnessed the
spread of British technology, commerce, language, and government throughout
the British Empire, which, at its greatest extent, encompassed roughly
one-fifth to one-quarter of the world's area and population. British colonies
contributed to the United Kingdom's extraordinary economic growth and
strengthened its voice in world affairs. Even as the United Kingdom extended
its imperial reach overseas, it continued to develop and broaden its
democratic institutions at home.

20th Century
By the time of Queen Victoria's death in 1901, other nations, including the
United States and Germany, had developed their own industries; the United
Kingdom's comparative economic advantage had lessened, and the ambitions of
its rivals had grown. The losses and destruction of World War I, the
depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the
United Kingdom's preeminent international position of the previous century.

Britain's control over its empire loosened during the interwar period.
Ireland, with the exception of six northern counties, gained independence
from the United Kingdom in 1921. Nationalism became stronger in other parts
of the empire, particularly in India and Egypt.

In 1926, the United Kingdom, completing a process begun a century earlier,
granted Australia, Canada, and New Zealand complete autonomy within the
empire. They became charter members of the British Commonwealth of Nations
(now known as the Commonwealth), an informal but closely-knit association
that succeeded the empire. Beginning with the independence of India and
Pakistan in 1947, the remainder of the British Empire was almost completely
dismantled. Today, most of Britain's former colonies belong to the
Commonwealth, almost all of them as independent members. There are, however,
13 former British colonies--including Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Falkland
Islands, and others--which have elected to continue their political links
with London and are known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories.

Although often marked by economic and political nationalism, the Commonwealth
offers the United Kingdom a voice in matters concerning many developing
countries. In addition, the Commonwealth helps preserve many institutions
deriving from British experience and models, such as parliamentary democracy,
in those countries.

The United Kingdom does not have a written constitution. The equivalent body
of law is based on statute, common law, and "traditional rights." Changes may
come about formally through new acts of Parliament, informally through the
acceptance of new practices and usage, or by judicial precedents. Although
Parliament has the theoretical power to make or repeal any law, in actual
practice the weight of 700 years of tradition restrains arbitrary actions.

Executive power rests nominally with the monarch but actually is exercised by
a committee of ministers (cabinet) traditionally selected from among the
members of the House of Commons and, to a lesser extent, the House of Lords.
The prime minister is normally the leader of the largest party in the
Commons, and the government is dependent on its support.

Parliament represents the entire country and can legislate for the whole or
for any constituent part or combination of parts. The maximum parliamentary
term is 5 years, but the prime minister may ask the monarch to dissolve
Parliament and call a general election at any time. The focus of legislative
power is the 646-member House of Commons, which has sole jurisdiction over
finance. The House of Lords, although shorn of most of its powers, can still
review, amend, or delay temporarily any bills except those relating to the
budget. The House of Lords has more time than the House of Commons to pursue
one of its more important functions--debating public issues. In 1999, the
government removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to hold seats in
the House of Lords. The current house consists of appointed life peers who
hold their seats for life and 92 hereditary peers who will hold their seats
only until final reforms have been agreed upon and implemented. The judiciary
is independent of the legislative and executive branches but cannot review
the constitutionality of legislation.

The separate identities of each of the United Kingdom's constituent parts are
also reflected in their respective governmental structures. Up until the
recent devolution of power to Scotland and Wales, a cabinet minister (the
Secretary of State for Wales) handled Welsh affairs at the national level
with the advice of a broadly representative council for Wales. Scotland
maintains, as it did before union with England, different systems of law
(Roman-French), education, local government, judiciary, and national church
(the Church of Scotland instead of the Church of England). In addition,
separate departments grouped under a Secretary of State for Scotland, who
also is a cabinet member, handled most domestic matters. In late 1997,
however, following approval of referenda by Scottish and Welsh voters (though
only narrowly in Wales), the British Government introduced legislation to
establish a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. The first elections for
the two bodies were held May 6, 1999. The Welsh Assembly opened on May 26,
and the Scottish Parliament opened on July 1, 1999. The devolved legislatures
have largely taken over most of the functions previously performed by the
Scottish and Welsh offices.

Northern Ireland had its own Parliament and prime minister from 1921 to 1973,
when the British Government imposed direct rule in order to deal with the
deteriorating political and security situation. From 1973, the Secretary of
State for Northern Ireland, based in London, was responsible for the region,
including efforts to resolve the issues that lay behind the "the troubles."

By the mid-1990s, gestures toward peace encouraged by successive British
governments and by President Clinton began to open the door for restored
local government in Northern Ireland. An Irish Republican Army (IRA)
cease-fire and nearly 2 years of multiparty negotiations, led by former U.S.
Senator George Mitchell, resulted in the Good Friday Agreement of April 10,
1998, which was subsequently approved by majorities in both Northern Ireland
and the Republic of Ireland. Key elements of the agreement include devolved
government, a commitment of the parties to work toward "total disarmament of
all paramilitary organizations," police reform, and enhanced mechanisms to
guarantee human rights and equal opportunity. The Good Friday Agreement also
called for formal cooperation between the Northern Ireland institutions and
the Government of the Republic of Ireland, and it established the
British-Irish Council, which includes representatives of the British and
Irish Governments as well as the devolved Governments of Northern Ireland,
Scotland, and Wales. Devolved government was reestablished in Northern
Ireland in December 1999.

The Good Friday Agreement provides for a 108-member elected Assembly,
overseen by a 12-minister Executive Committee (cabinet) in which unionists
and nationalists share leadership responsibility. Northern Ireland elects 18
representatives to the Westminster Parliament in London. However, the five
Sinn Fein Members of Parliament (MPs), who won seats in the 2004 election,
have refused to claim their seats.

Progress has been made on each of the key elements of the Good Friday
Agreement. Most notably, a new police force has been instituted; the IRA has
decommissioned its weapons, and the security situation in Northern Ireland
has normalized. Since 2002, when the last devolved government was suspended,
the British Government, with Irish and U.S. support, continued to push
Northern Ireland's main parties towards a power-sharing agreement. In October
2006, intense negotiations led to the St. Andrews Agreement, which set up a
Transitional Assembly, as the precursor for the return of devolved
government. Parties were given until March 26, 2007 to work out arrangements
for a power-sharing agreement. As part of these negotiations, the Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) insisted that Sinn Fein endorse policing structures, a
key U.S. objective as well.

In a historic move, Sinn Fein's general membership finally agreed to support
policing in late January 2007. New assembly elections were held on March 7,
returning the unionist (Protestant) DUP and nationalist (Catholic) Sinn Fein
again as the two largest parties. While party leaders Ian Paisley (DUP) and
Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) did not reach agreement on power-sharing in time for
the March 26 deadline, they did hold a historic joint meeting that day. At
the meeting, they agreed to begin a power-sharing government on May 8 with
Paisley as First Minister and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein as Deputy First
Minister. On May 8, 2007 Paisley and McGuinness took their oath of office in
the presence of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Irish Prime Minister
Bertie Ahern, and a bipartisan U.S. presidential delegation headed by Special
Envoy Paula Dobriansky, who was accompanied by Senator Ted Kennedy.

While most attributes of government have been devolved to the Northern
Ireland Assembly, responsibility for security and justice remains in the
hands of the Parliament in Westminster. The St. Andrews Agreement envisioned
devolution of policing and justice by May 2008. Other outstanding issues
relate to continued paramilitary activities. While the IRA has completely
decommissioned its weapons and is no longer considered a terrorist threat, a
few loyalist (Protestant) paramilitary groups have thus far refused to stand
down or decommission. While one large loyalist paramilitary group recently
announced it has placed its weapons "out of use", it has not formally
decommissioned them. There is also some concern about dissident republican
groups who are believed responsible for a number of fire bombs in November
2006 around Northern Ireland.

The United States also is committed to Northern Ireland's economic
development, and through the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) almost $462 million was obligated to the International Fund for
Ireland from 1986 to 2006. The fund provides grants and loans to businesses
to improve the economy, redress inequalities of employment opportunity, and
improve cross-border business and community ties.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister (Head of Government)--The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs--The Rt. Hon. David
Miliband, MP
Ambassador to the U.S.--Sir David Manning
Ambassador to the UN--Sir Emyr Jones Parry, KCMG

The United Kingdom maintains an embassy in the United States at 3100
Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-588-6500; fax

Tony Blair became the first Labour Prime Minister ever to win a third
consecutive term when he was re-elected on May 5, 2005. Labour has a 67-seat
majority in the House of Commons. The Conservative (Tory) Party and
Liberal-Democrats (LibDems) form the major opposition parties. Blair stepped
down as Prime Minister in June 2007. Labour Party leader Gordon Brown
succeeded him. The main British parties support a strong transatlantic link,
but have become increasingly absorbed by European issues as Britain's
economic and political ties to the continent grow in the post-Cold War world.
Prime Minister Brown is expected to continue Blair's policy of having the
United Kingdom play a leading role in Europe even as the United Kingdom
maintains its strong bilateral relationship with the United States. Britain's
relationship with Europe is a subject of considerable political discussion in
the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom has the fifth-largest economy in the world, is the
second-largest economy in the European Union, and is a major international
trading power. A highly developed, diversified, market-based economy with
extensive social welfare services provides most residents with a high
standard of living. Unemployment and inflation levels are amongst the lowest
within the European Union.

Since 1979, the British Government has privatized most state-owned companies,
including British Steel, British Airways, British Telecom, British Coal,
British Aerospace, and British Gas, although in some cases the government
retains a "golden share" in these companies. The Labour government has
continued the privatization policy of its Conservative predecessor,
particularly by encouraging "public-private partnerships" (partial
privatization) in such areas as the London Underground. The economy of the
United Kingdom is now primarily based on private enterprise, accounting for
approximately four-fifths of employment and output.

London ranks alongside New York as a leading international financial center.
London's financial exports contribute greatly to the United Kingdom's balance
of payments. Ratings agencies rank the United Kingdom's banking sector as one
of the strongest in the world and its banks are amongst the most profitable
in the G-8. It is a global leader in emissions trading and is home to the
Alternative Investment Market (AIM). It is also a government priority to make
London the leading center of Islamic finance.

The United Kingdom is the European Union's only significant energy exporter.
It is also one of the world's largest energy consumers, and most analysts
predict a shift in U.K. status from net exporter to net importer of energy by
2020, possibly sooner. Oil production in the U.K. is leveling off. While
North Sea natural gas production continues to rise, gains may be offset by
ever-increasing consumption. North Sea oil and gas exploration activities are
shifting to smaller fields and to increments of larger, developed fields,
presenting opportunities for smaller, independent energy operators to become
active in North Sea production.

The United Kingdom is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and is one of NATO's major European maritime, air, and
land powers; it ranks third among NATO countries in total defense
expenditure. The United Kingdom has been a member of the European Community
(now European Union) since 1973. In the United Nations, the United Kingdom is
a permanent member of the Security Council. The U.K. held the Presidency of
the G-8 during 2005; it held the EU Presidency from July to December 2005.

The British Armed Forces are charged with protecting the United Kingdom and
its overseas territories, promoting Britain's wider security interests, and
supporting international peacekeeping efforts. The 37,000-member Royal Navy,
which includes 6,000 Royal Marine commandos, is in charge of the United
Kingdom's independent strategic nuclear arm, which consists of four Trident
missile submarines. The British Army, consisting of approximately 99,200
personnel, the Royal Air Force, with 42,000 personnel, along with the Royal
Navy and Royal Marines, are active and regular participants in NATO and other
coalition operations. Approximately 9% of the British Armed Forces is female,
and 4% of British forces represent ethnic minorities.

The United Kingdom stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States
following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., and its
military forces are part of the coalition force in Afghanistan. The U.K.
force in Afghanistan will increase to 7,700 by the end of 2007. U.K. forces
are primarily based in the Helmand region, where they are on the front line
in the war against continued Taliban operations. In addition, the U.K. has
contributed more than ?500 million to Afghan reconstruction--the
second-largest donor after the U.S. The U.K. was the United States' main
coalition partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom and continues to have more than
5,000 troops deployed in Iraq to help stabilize and rebuild the country.
Under UN Security Council Resolution 1483, the U.K. also shared with the
United States responsibility for civil administration in Iraq and was an
active participant in the Coalition Provisional Authority before the handover
of Iraqi sovereignty on June 28, 2004. Britain's participation in the Iraq
war and its aftermath remains a domestically controversial issue.

The United Kingdom is one of the United States' closest allies, and British
foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States.
Bilateral cooperation reflects the common language, ideals, and democratic
practices of the two nations. Relations were strengthened by the United
Kingdom's alliance with the United States during both World Wars, and its
role as a founding member of NATO, in the Korean conflict, in the Persian
Gulf War, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The United Kingdom and the United
States continually consult on foreign policy issues and global problems and
share major foreign and security policy objectives.

The United Kingdom is the fifth-largest market for U.S. goods exports after
Canada, Mexico, Japan, and China, and the sixth-largest supplier of U.S.
imports after Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany. U.S. exports of
goods and services to the United Kingdom in 2006 totaled $92 billion, while
U.S. imports from the U.K. totaled $93 billion. The United States has had a
trade deficit with the United Kingdom since 1998. The United Kingdom is a
large source of foreign tourists in the United States. In 2005, 3.4 million
U.S. residents visited the United Kingdom, while 4.2 million U.K. residents
visited the United States.

The United States and the United Kingdom share the world's largest foreign
direct investment partnership. U.S. investment in the United Kingdom reached
$324 billion in 2005, while U.K. direct investment in the U.S. totaled $282
billion. This investment sustains more than 1 million American jobs.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Robert Holmes Tuttle
Deputy Chief of Mission--Richard LeBaron
Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs--Maura Connelly
Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Dorothy Lutter
Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs--Mark Tokola
Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs--Barry Walkley
Minister-Counselor for Management Affairs--Richard Jaworski
Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs--John Caulfield
Regional Security Officer--Scott Farquar
U.S. Consul General in Belfast--Susan Elliott
Principal Officer in Edinburgh--Lisa Vickers

The U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom is located at 24 Grosvenor Sq., W1A
1AE, London (tel. [44] (207) 499-9000; fax [44] (207) 409-1637).

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizenstraveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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